The quake that woke up ChinaJune 16th, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS
By Ren Ke
Beijing, June 16 (Xinhua) When the doyen of modern Chinese literature Lu Xun was a student of medicine in 1906, he saw a lantern slide of a group of Japanese soldiers decapitating a Chinese man. What dismayed him was the indifference of the Chinese spectators at the scene. Lu wrote, “The people of a weak, laggard country, even though they may enjoy health, can only serve as the senseless subjects of, and audience for, public executions.”
A century later, the Chinese people are no longer indifferent to the sufferings of their compatriots. After the devastating May 12 earthquake, the whole country seemed to mobilize for relief work, showing the generosity and sense of duty expected in a civil society in a calamity of the magnitude.
The public, officials and soldiers, worked together. Thousands of volunteers went to the quake zone, and tens of billions in cash has poured into Sichuan province.
People queued up at blood donation vehicles, and many are seeking to adopt quake orphans.
A month after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, the official death roll is almost 70,000, with more than 17,000 missing. More than 14 million survivors have to rebuild their homes from the debris.
Qiu Hua stares into the distance from the stairs of the Jiuzhou Stadium in Sichuan’s Mianyang City. He is assessing his assets.
“I have nothing now,” says Qiu, 40. “My house in Beichuan collapsed, my crop is ruined. The plant where I worked has stopped production. I don’t know what the future holds.”
He now lives in a tent in the stadium, which shelters almost 10,000 other people who have lost their homes.
“I’ve got one thing”, says Qiu. “I have the affection and care of other people in other areas. If they didn’t care, more people would be dead.”
In Qingchuan county, Wang Shizhou helps the local government and soldiers distribute food and drugs. Four days after the quake, Wang came here as a leader of a volunteer group from Beijing.
“I saw a lot of disasters when I was a soldier, but what surprised me this time is that such a lot of people, no matter who they are and where they come from, are doing so much to help,” says Wang, 26.
“I once thought the Chinese were indifferent, especially in the money-oriented market economy,” says Wang, a computer engineer in Beijing before he resigned to work in the quake zone.
On the road from Dujiangyan to Yingxiu, the epicentre of the quake, a man in his 60s cooks for displaced survivors everyday.
He could not care less about the media attention he attracted. “I came here to cook, not to become famous,” he remarked nonchalantly.